Archive for May, 2012

Accessories Part 3: Surcingle Belts

Fox Motif Belt

This is the third installment of my accessory posts and it comes just in time for the summer heat. It is Memorial Day weekend and summer is getting underway. The temperatures are rising which means no sweaters or outerwear. Plus, suits, ties and sports jackets will probably only be worn when absolutely necessary. So, what can you do to spruce up your outfit in the summer? My first two accessory posts (watch bands and socks) can be applied to the summer months as can the topic of this post, surcingle belts.

Stacked Surcingle BeltsBelts are a terrific accessory that can be used to add a little personality to an outfit. In my opinion the best thing about them as an accessory is that they are a necessity. No one will ever ask you “Why are you wearing belt?” as they may if you wear a tie or even a jacket in the heat. However, they may ask you why your belt has whales or boats on it. The summer makes for especially fun belt weather as there are an assortment of belts that are perfect for the occasion. I am talking about surcingle belts.

Eliza B Surcingles

My new Leatherman surcingle belts.

Surcingle belts can be easily identified by their construction. These belts have an equestrian heritage. A Surcingle is a part of a horse’s harness and if you look at one you can see the similarity. They are primarily made of wool twill, but many are made of made of cotton and gross grain. The wool or cotton fabric has leather enclosures attached on both ends and generally a roundish buckle. It is a simple belt, but the variety of colors and designs are what make it a favorite among the trad crowd.

Blue with burgundyNavy with a burgundy stripe.

Olive Surcingle Belt

Olive Surcingle and the most versatile that I own (it looks great with a blue university striped ocbd).

The greatest attribute of the surcingle in my opinion is the range of colors and designs that you can find them in. The most common surcingle is either a solid color or has a single stripe. Traditional colors for a surcingle are navy, tan, olive, and burgundy, but there are many other colors. In terms of stripes, navy with a burgundy stripe or burgundy with a navy stripe is the most classic, but there are a lot of great combinations. You can also find some regimental surcingles such as these at Smartturnout.  For an even more summerish look grosgrain ribbon surcingle belts are a great choice as they can be very colorful. I saved the most fun surcingle for last.

Fox Motif Belt

My new fox motif that I like to call my Fantastic Mr. Fox belt.

Motif designs really allow you to express your individuality. You can find these belts with almost any theme. The most common is nautical (you can see the light house motif belt that I purchased for my stepfather here), but hunting and fishing are a close second along with a host of other trad obsessions.  I recently ordered a fox belt from Eliza B. They have a wide selection of motifs and are very affordable. Another great choice when it comes to motif belts is the needlepoint variety. These are more expensive (starting around $100), but can include more intricate designs and have a cool handmade look to them. Two good places to shop for needlepoint belts are Smathers and Branson and Tucker Blair. I would encourage everyone to have at least one motif belt in their wardrobe simply for the fun it adds to casual Fridays and the weekend.

Surcingle belts are a great summer accessory. While they are not strictly for the summertime (my olive belts gets worn year round). They have a casual fun vibe that is perfectly suited for the summer. Take into account that you can get them in some fun motifs or bright colors and it just makes sense. So, if you feel like the heat is limiting your sartorial creativity I would urge you to pick up one or three!

The Boat Shoe: Sperry Top-Siders

Sperry Top-Sider

I have been hunting for a pair of casual shoes for quite a while now. Originally I had planned on purchasing a pair of blucher camp mocs, but do to a number of obstacles such as bad reviews, not being able to try a pair on in person, and not having the funds to spring for a pair of Quoddys or Rancourts, I gave up. In order to fulfill all of my shoe needs I ended up purchasing two pair of shoes (You can see the first pair here ) for a total of $100. The first pair that I got are able to withstand bad weather, are suitable for the office and casual wear. The second pair that I purchased needed to be able to be worn without socks (so I that do not look a bigger dork than I already am when in shorts) and to be able to make an appearance in the office if necessary. A pair of boat shoes seemed like the perfect solution.

Sperry Top-Sider

Top-Siders and ChinosI purchased a pair of Sperry Top-Siders. I chose Sperry over Sebago simply because when I found the Sperrys on sale there were no Sebagos in the mall to compare them with. There were two colors of Sperrys to choose from, tan and brown suede. I found the brown suede with leather trim more attractive and believed that it would be more versatile as well. Neither model had the white sole which was once not only a mainstay, but a functional feature as it kept the deck of a boat mark free. Since I do not own or actively boat this was not an issue for me and I actually find the brown dark sole more appealing, even if it is less authentic.

Sperry Top-Sider with chinos Top-Siders with tan socks and chinos.

Top-Siders and TargylesTop-Siders with Targyles.

Boat shoes sans socks

Pardon my paleness.

My Sperry’s are more comfortable than I had imagined. In my opinion they run true to size and have a great fit. The first time that I wore them it felt as if I were wearing slippers. Afterwards I wondered why I had never owned a pair before. They look great with chinos and and OCBD at work as well as sockless with chino shorts and a polo. I am very satisfied with my purchase. The only issue that I am having now is deciding what socks to wear with them. So far I have found that tan socks look better than blue and I am not fully sold on wearing patterned socks even though I have seen it done quite a lot. I also know that by even bringing up socks and boat shoes that I am offending a lot of my readers! However, I am not yet confident enough to go to work sans socks even though my office is less than business casual. Don’t worry I am sure that I will work my self up to it!

My Mom: A Style Role Model

I thought that I would write a little bit about my mom for Mother’s Day. She has helped and influenced me in a countless number of ways. One of the ways that she influenced me is my style. My mom dresses basically how I would describe my own style, more traditional than preppy. I was going to raid her closet for this post, but I don’t think that she would appreciate too much. However, I will let you know that it contains enough sweaters (cardigans and crew neck), dresses, and skirts decorated with stripes, floral prints, and polka dots to satisfy anyone. Not only do her clothes illustrate her trad peppiness, but her collection of LL Bean totes and Vera Bradley is not to be taken scoffed at. As a kid, I would browse the LL Bean, Lands’ End, and other catalogs that she had at the house and I didn’t know it at the time, but I was learning (it didn’t hurt that she picked out and purchased lots of my clothing). The influence that she has had on my style did not stop at clothing either.

Trad MagazinesWhat doe a trad mom read? Birds & Bloom, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, and Southern Living.

Womens Riding JacketOne of her jackets that I love.

ToteJust a sample of her totes.

She also enjoys architecture, interior design and gardening. Her taste in all three tend to lean towards the traditional side. As a kid we used drive to historic neighborhoods simply to admire the homes. I still do this today. This probably has a lot to do with why I live in an apartment in historic building. As I began decorating my new apartment I consulted her many times. I can’t count the number of paint colors that I showed her. I was thrilled when she gave me an embroidered Charles Wysocki picture that she made (as soon as I paint, it is going up). She is also an excellent gardener and I always turn to her when I am trying to pick out plants for my own home. Her style and hobbies have clearly influenced my own.


Gardening Basket. and KedsCute gardening bucket and Keds.

LampStripes and Polka dots

Charles WysockiEmbroidered Charles Wysocki

My mom has been a style role model to me. The older I get the more I appreciate how well she understands the fundamentals of clothing and how easily she executes them. I am still learning, and I am still learning from her as well. I have included a few pictures in this post to try to illustrate my point, but they do not her justice. I can’t capture the essence of someone who has been teaching me about style for so many years with a few pictures or paragraphs. This post is just a small token of my gratitude, I love you mom, thanks.